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A Mobile Car Wash Business could be a Lucrative Business Opportunity that is also Fun to Run

If you can get the right location, deliver high-quality services, and execute good marketing, you can grow your clientele by providing your service to those who require their vehicles to be washed quickly and efficiently for an affordable price. 

However, although it’s a lucrative opportunity, starting a mobile car wash business isn’t that simple. Not only it may require a significant financial investment, but you will also need solid planning and attention to detail in executing the business processes. 

In this guide, we will show you how. 

Mobile Car Wash Business: Industry Overview

As we know, a mobile car wash business mainly offers a service to clean, wax, and wash vehicles. We shouldn’t limit our service to passenger cars, but we can also specialize ourselves in other types of automotive vehicles like trucks, vans, and trailers. 

In fact, servicing larger vehicles (trucks) will need specialized equipment and skills, and if you can provide these, you’ll gain a competitive advantage over your competitors. Also, this industry includes self-service car wash businesses that are fairly popular these days. 

Legal Requirements To Start a Mobile Car Wash Business

As with all businesses, you will need some form of permit or license before you can legally operate your mobile car wash business. However, the legal requirements for licensing, permits, and certifications will vary depending on your location and local regulations that apply. 

In general, however, you will need the following documents before you can legally operate your mobile car wash business: 

  • Bylaws
  • Tax
  • Articles of incorporation
  • Intellectual property assignment agreement
  • Operating agreement
  • Employee contracts/offer letters
  • Drivers’ license
  • Non-disclosure agreement
  • Insurance

Also, again this will vary depending on your location, but you might be legally required to have a professional certification before you can start washing a car commercially. 

However, even if you aren’t legally required to, being certified can provide an additional competitive advantage for your business. Many customers would prefer certified businesses and many are willing to pay you more for being certified. 

You might want to consider certifications by: 

  • International Car Wash Association
  • State Car Wash Associations
  • International Detailing Association


Do you need to be insured before you can start your mobile car wash business? 

The answer will depend on your location. Some locations do legally require your plumbing business to be insured before you can serve your clients. However, again, even if you are not legally required to be insured in your area, it’s a good idea to get insured. Not only insurance policies can protect your business from future risks and accidents, there are potential clients that only want to deal with insured businesses. 

You should at least get: 

  • General liability insurance: protects the business when clients are injured in the process of your service. Will cover medical bills, legal fees, and other related costs. 
  • Commercial property insurance: when the business’s property is damaged
  • Commercial auto liability insurance: covers any vehicle that is used for business purposes
  • Workers comp insurance: covers lost wages or medical bills when employees are injured on the job.

Improving Your Online Presence

Think about it. Nowadays, what’s the most likely way you’ll learn about a new local business? Most of us will rely on Google (or the other search engines) and social media to find new local businesses, including a mobile car wash service.

In short, if you want your business to be found by your target audience—as defined above—, you’ll need to help your customers in finding your business by improving your online presence.

While this can be a pretty broad subject, in general, you should focus on: 

  • SEO: create content about your business and about the cleaning industry in general, and optimize them so they can rank high on Google for certain target keywords
  • Local SEO/Google Maps optimization: when you search for queries related to local businesses (i.e. “restaurants in New York”), Google will push results from Google Maps above the organic results. Since a cleaning business is by nature, a local business, we should aim to improve our Google Maps ranking. 
  • Social media: pretty obvious. Social media is where people are nowadays, so it would only make sense to build your presence on social media networks frequented by your target audience. 

In short, find out how your potential customers search for information online—especially information related to local services—-and make your business available on these channels. 

Service Excellence From Day One

What separates the best mobile car wash businesses from losing ones? After all, with the right equipment and diligence, everyone can quite easily clean cars.

The answer, then, is customer service excellence

While it might sound intimidating at first, customer service excellence doesn’t need to be too complex. It’s mainly about understanding your client’s expectations and always deliver on your promise. If you, for example, say that you will “clean your car in less than 20 minutes”, then make sure you can deliver on that. 

In fact, by simply being on time, you are going to beat 80% of your competitors. 

Time management can be a significant issue in any field service businesses, especially after you are employing a lot of technicians in your team. It’s best to invest as early as possible in a smart car wash software like fieldd so you can always deliver on your promises and make sure your team is using their time on their tasks rather than on administrative duties. 

Even a bit of effort in communicating with your clients can be extremely helpful in maintaining good relationships and growing your business. Spend some time to talk to your clients about their unique vehicle needs, and discuss your potential approaches in cleaning their cars. 

You are more likely to stand out if you put just a little bit of effort to communicate, even if it’s as simple as giving them a sincere thank you.


A pool cleaning business is, above anything else, a service business, and so your focus should be to deliver high-quality services, every time. This is how you will turn happy customers into advocates, which in turn will recommend your business to their peers, family members, and friends. By simply showing up on time and finishing the job on time, you can beat most of your competitors and attract more clients. 

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